Veterans Administration Fights TBI Accusations As Minnesota Congressman Calls for Release of Information
In the wake of the revelation that unqualified nurses were diagnosing, and probably misdiagnosing and mistreating, traumatic brain injury victims at Veterans Administration Hospitals in Minnesota, one Congressman in the state has called for a nationwide investigation into other VA hospitals.
Unfortunately, at the same time, the Minnesota VA is resisting efforts to get them to release the names of veterans treated there with Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI).
Because the veterans were examined by unqualified doctors or nurses, who had little to no experience with traumatic brain injury or repeated concussions, the veterans suffered misdiagnoses and often had their veterans benefits denied because their head injuries were not properly treated.
Representative Tim Waltz, from Minnesota, sent a letter to the Inspector General at the Department of Veterans Affairs, stating that the Minnesota investigation has made him concerned about how veterans are being treated at other VA hospitals across the country.
“It’s certainly possible if it happened in Minneapolis it’s possible, and I would argue probable, it happened elsewhere,” Walz said in an interview on Wednesday, September 9th.
A Minnesota news station, KARE 11 News, initially investigated claims that veterans had been misdiagnosed and denied benefits any time between 2010 and 2014 in Minneapolis when, against VA policy, hundreds of initial diagnoses of TBI and other brain injuries were conducted by unqualified medical personnel.
After the report was published, a Minneapolis VA representative acknowledged that some veterans had been evaluated by doctors “who were not specialists” in diagnosing or treating TBI, which put the veterans at a higher risk of misdiagnosis, mistreatment, and denial of their veterans benefits for their medical treatment – which can be time-consuming and frustrating to sort out even for those not fighting a brain injury.
However, the spokesperson initially said that “only a small number” of cases had been mistreated like that. Unfortunately, further investigation by KARE 11 showed that the problem ran much deeper than the VA admitted. The news station, along with other TEGNA-owned stations nationwide, requested information from the VA on TBI diagnoses using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
In reaction to the request, the VA now claims that the names of doctors who wrote these wrong TBI diagnoses are confidential. Officials added that releasing that information won’t “contribute significantly to the public’s understanding of the activities of the federal government.” They added concerns for the privacy of the doctors and the patients involved in the TBI scandal.
“I want to know that every veteran that went in to do a C & P exam and specifically being screened for TBI saw a qualified medical professional,” Rep. Waltz told KARE 11 in an interview. KARE 11 stated in an article that, without the names of the doctors who made the initial TBI diagnosis, it is impossible to determine if the medical professionals were qualified or not.